Tanya Frank on Growing Through Her Son’s Mental Illness
Grow Through It: Health Issues & Illness
Tanya Frank, author of Zig-Zag Boy: A Memoir of Madness and Motherhood, describes the day in 2009 when her son Zach, a Merit Scholar at UCLA, came home and began acting uncharacteristically suspicious, fearful and distressed. After not sleeping or eating, she took him to the emergency room the next day and learned that he had experienced a psychotic break.
Thirteen years later she is still working through it. When she was in the States, she trained to be a docent at an elephant seal colony in California, where she was living. The organization was remote, off the grid, and it forced her to try to forge a new identity.
She returned to England, where she, Zach, and his older brother were born and where she had family and friends from childhood, in hopes of finding kinder, more compassionate care.
She learned that there are things she cannot control. Letting go continues to be a challenge. After trying unsuccessfully to find the right drug, the right program, the right doctor who would help her son, she now holds onto hope that one day he will live a more independent life. And she realizes that her life has to go on, as she is his rock.
If you are going through something similar, she suggests you find your kin, your support system. Take care of yourself and try to be with your person without doing, finding the answers, fixing — just listening and trying not to be scared.